CASTELVETRANO, Italy, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Italian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who once claimed to have murdered enough people to fill a cemetery, was laid to rest on Wednesday in his hometown in Sicily, with only a handful of family members allowed to attend.
Messina Denaro, seized in January after three decades on the run, died on Monday of cancer in a hospital in central Italy, taking to the grave the secrets of his mafioso past.
His coffin was driven overnight across half of Italy, escorted by the police.
The hearse arrived in the southwestern Sicilian town of Castelvetrano after dawn and entered the cemetery by a side gate, skirting residential areas to avoid any public demonstrations of affection or anger.
Seven people walked behind the hearse, one carrying a bunch of yellow flowers. Three cars of close relatives also drove in before police closed the entrance to prevent waiting journalists from following. There was no religious service.
Among those present were Messina Denaro’s daughter, Lorenza Alagna, who he only met following his capture. The mobster’s two sisters and brother were also there.
Messina Denaro, 61, was found guilty of numerous crimes, including helping plan the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino — killings that shocked Italy and sparked a crackdown on the Sicilian mob.
He was also held responsible for bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan in 1993 that killed 10 people, as well as helping organise the kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo, 12, to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia.
The boy was held for two years, then murdered and his body dissolved in acid.
The mayor of Castelvetrano, Enzo Alfano, has been highly critical of Messina Denaro, saying he had wrecked the reputation of the town, stunting the local economy.
“It will take decades more before we can put an end to … a sometimes rampant culture of illegality, of impunity, that he and his acolytes and others before them cultivated for too long,” Alfano told reporters earlier this week.